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What Is Vandalism?

Vandalism is the deliberate destruction of public or private property. This can range from dropping a small piece of litter on the street to arson.

Vandalism includes:

  • Graffiti (tagging). Some graffiti is art, and art is not vandalism. However, gang tags, and graffiti meant to cause violence is not art. Dumping trash
  • Smashing windows and bus shelters
  • Ruining sidewalks and greenspaces like parks
  • Abandoned vehicles
  • Interfering with road signs

Areas that are often vandalized are less beautiful, yes, but they can also be less safe. Why?

In areas with a lot of vandalism, people are less likely to walk around, and build community with one another. This causes fewer eyes to be on the street, and less protection for community members. Broken windows (metaphorically, and literally), often lead to more broken windows. This happens because as vandalism occurs and makes areas look less beautiful, people become less and less likely to improve the areas.

There Are Ways to Improve Your Community and Stop Vandalism in a Neighborhood?

Get to know your neighbors! It is important that you know the people around you and in your community. People who live in communities that are connected care more about their communities, and protect it more – which includes spending the time to make it beautiful. Be safe, and encourage new people. Meet neighbors when they move in. Work with your community to clean up vandalism that might occur, and to beautify your neighborhood. And, talk to your neighbors if you see something suspicious. Even if it is nothing, talking to them allows them to see you are concerned and take an interest, which might encourage them to do the same.

Hold parties and social activities in your neighborhood. Maybe build a garden, make a mural. Help make your community reflect the people in it. Research shows that graffiti is less likely to be put on a wall the community values, or a wall with art. Getting to know your neighbors goes beyond knowing their name and face. You should develop a friendship or trust of some type so they know to watch your back while you are watching theirs . Here are some resources:

Project for Public Spaces

Next City

Get to know the police in your neighborhood. There have been a lot of troubles between police and communities lately – and always. This happens for a lot of complicated reasons. However, one piece of the puzzle is that communities and the police who serve those communities often don’t know each other. This allows ingrained prejudice to build, and tensions to rise. However, getting to know the officers in your community will make them feel supported, and may just make them less likely to use inappropriate force against community members. Communities with strong connections between police and community members are more peaceful overall, and have less vandalism.

Form a community association or neighborhood watch program. You can’t fight vandalism on your own, so it is important that you engage your neighbors and others in your community in your battle as well. This not only helps them take a more active interest, but it also provides them with the opportunity to get to know each other.